Category Archives: advocacy

Charbonneau – Plus Ca Change


In 1996 the Quebec government appointed Lawrence Poitras to lead a public inquiry into the Sûreté du Québec following accusations of corruption and evidence tampering within the force. Three years later Poitras submitted his 2,700 page report accusing the force of abusing its powers of arrest, being more concerned with protecting its image than investigating misconduct. Total cost to taxpayers? Over $20 million.

Did the Poitras Commission recommendations have any lasting influence? Judging by the release this week of the Charbonneau Commission’s report the answer is No.

On Tuesday Justice France Charbonneau submitted her 1,751-page report detailing how organized crime has infiltrated the Quebec construction industry, and how political forces such as elected officials, the ministry of transportation and the Quebec police force stood idle and let it happen, or in many cases participated in the collusion. The report – which cost taxpayers close to $45 million – states that there was the an “appearance” of corruption in Montreal and Laval, a “vulnerability” in contract-awarding by certain provincial departments, such as Transport Quebec, and that there were bodies, such as the Sûreté du Québec, that could have done something to address problems but did not.

Plus ca change.


And now we stand on the brink of another public inquiry into Canadian injustice, that of the missing and murdered indigenous women. A coalition of groups including family members, the First Nations Summit, and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association is wisely recommending the Trudeau government exercise caution before jumping into an expensive and lengthy public process. Chiefly they recommend that officials consult with indigenous women, and learn from the lessons of the Oppal inquiry (the Missing Women Commission borne from the conviction of serial killer Robert Pickton) before again engaging in a “fundamentally flawed” process.

“We need to get to the root causes of why this is happening, so we can prevent this from happening,” said Lorelai Williams, whose aunt went missing in 1977, and whose cousin, missing since 1996, was among the women whose DNA was found on Pickton’s farm.

Indeed. Let’s start with the release yesterday by the social justice coalition’s report card on child poverty which says that 40 per cent of indigenous children in Canada live in poverty.  

And when B.C. Minister of Transportation, Todd Stone, ponders why there are still challenges to keeping indigenous girls and women safe along the Highway of Tears one wonders why he hasn’t consulted the the reams of public reports and documents – including recommendations – that have been filed over the past decade. Between 19 – 40 girls and women have gone missing or been murdered along the 450 mile stretch of highway over the last 42 years. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist – or even a gifted profiler – to conclude that this is not the work of a single person, the problem is  systemic. Judging from the report from the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, you might want to take a closer look at the very institution charged with protecting these women.

The investigation was triggered by a 2013 Human Rights Watch report titled Those Who Take Us Away a scathing document detailing such allegations as women being strip-searched by male police officers, an unwarranted attack by a police dog against a young girl and the 2012 rape of a homeless woman by four officers. Researchers heard allegations of sexual assault or rape in fully half of the 10 northern towns they visited, the report said.


An American friend recently remarked to me, “how can these things go on-and-on in your country?!”. Because they go on-and-on everywhere. I need look no further than my own back door – Rocky Mount, North Carolina – to see how the plight of a marginalized group – namely female black prostitutes – was completely ignored when women slowly started disappearing and turned up murdered over the course of 6 years in a town no bigger than Cornwall or Fredericton.

Bad people will always prey on the weak and vulnerable.  C’est la meme chose.


Repost: Quebec 1977: Who Was The Bootlace Killer?

There was a serial killer operating not only in the Eastern Townships in the 1970s, but also in the Montreal region. Call him The Bootlace Killer. Louise Camirand, Helen Monast, Denise Bazinet and Theresa Allore were all most likely strangled by a thin ligature. Camirand with her bootlace, Monast and Bazinet most likely with their shoe laces, and my sister, Theresa Allore with her scarf (she was wearing Chinese slippers with no laces when she disappeared). Because some of these cases extend into the Montreal region, they call into question many other murder investigations from that era that remain unsolved, most notably the unsolved murder of Sharron Prior.

Let me begin by stating that I do not like unifying theories, especially those involving serial killers. But given the explosion in information exchanged due to the Internet in the last 10-years, the communication between the Victims’ families in these cases and the vast amount of cyber-sleuthing, and the fact that within these 10 years Quebec law enforcement has not solved any of these cases; the matter now requires some innovation, imagination and – above all else – simple curiosity. It is time for a fresh approach.

The original investigation

Louise Camirand: Bootlace clearly visable around neck.

Louise Camirand: Bootlace clearly visable around neck.

When the theory of a serial predator roaming the Eastern Townships was first put forward ten years ago we were only talking about 3 cases; Theresa Allore, Manon Dube and Louise Camirand (for a quick refresher on those cases, check out the Wikipedia site here). What made this theory so compelling was the timing and geographic immediacy of all the crimes. As Geographic Profiler, Kim Rossmo summarized:

“Three murders of low-risk young women in a 19-month period, in such a tight geographic cluster, is highly suspicious, and not likely to be a chance occurrence.”

However, there were differences in some of the circumstances. Dube was a child found fully clothed and the exact cause of her death has never been determined. Allore was most likely strangled, presumably by her scarf . Louise Camirand was the least elusive case; she was clearly strangled by her boot lace, and her boots were never recovered.




Denise Bazinet

The case of Denise Bazinet, to my understanding, has been forgotten. Trawl the internet and you will find one reference to it: The Quebec journaliste, Jacques Guay apparently covered the case in 1977. The case has been sitting in the archives of Allo Police for 35 years where I recently discovered it.

Denise Bizanet: marks of strangulation clearly visable.

Denise Bizanet: marks of strangulation clearly visable.

Like many of the victims, 23-year-old Denise Bazinet was a low risk female. She worked as a cashier at Saint Hubert barbeque. On the night of her disappearance she was last seen at a local restaurant. She disappeared from Montreal in the Fall of 1977. Her semi-nude body was found on October 24th, 1977 at the side of autoroute 35 near the Chambly Saint-Luc exit, east of La Prairie. Bazinet had been sexually assaulted and strangled. She was wearing her jewelry; a watch, earrings, a ring on her finger. Some of her clothing was found strewn along the shoulder of the road, but some items were missing. She was wearing her right shoe – sport shoes with thick laces – but her left shoe was off and discarded along the road. The crime scene photo of Bazinet clearly shows the thin line along her neck where the mark of strangulation was made, presumably by something thin like her shoe lace. The crime scene is just under 10 miles from Chambly, Quebec where just 6 weeks earlier Helene Monast was found strangled.


Helene Monast

Crime scene of Helene Monast

Crime scene of Helene Monast

September 11, 1977. Again, a low risk female. She was out with friends the night she disappeared, last seen at a local restaurant, Chez Marius. She was found across the street in a public park along the Chambly canal. Clothing was discarded along side of the body… personal items; a pack of Export A cigarettes, a box of Chiclets. Some articles of clothing were missing, notably her shoes. Investigators asked her family at the time of the discovery whether Helene wore shoes with laces. When Helene’s sister saw the body she noticed a thin line along her neck from stragulation.




Louise Camirand, Denise Bazinet, Helene Monast, and Theresa Allore. Low risk females. All found in wooded or rural settings. Articles of clothing missing. In the case of Camirand, Monast and Allore shoes are missing. Articles of clothing scattered next to the bodies. Jewelry left on most of the victims. All strangled, presumably by thin ligatures like a shoe lace or a scarf.


Crime scene of Denise Bizanet

Crime scene of Denise Bizanet


The addition of Bazinet and Monast to the original 3 cases of Camirand, Dube and Allore extends the geographic radius beyond the Eastern Townships of Quebec to the Montreal region. I believe it a worthy exercise to consider other unsolved homicides from the same era in the same region with similar victimologies. It has been close to 40 years and Quebec police have not been able to advance the resolution of any of these cases, it’s time for some fresh eyes.





 Jocelyne Houle

24 year old Jocelyne Houle disappeared from the Old Munich bar in downtown Montreal (corner of St. Denis and Dorchester / Rene Levesque) in April 1977, one month after Louis Camirand’s disappearance in Sherbrooke. Her body was found along the side of a rural road in Saint Calixte, North of Laval. She was sexually assaulted and beaten. Articles of clothing were scattered. Her shoes were removed. It is not known how she died, but her autopsy report should be examined to see if the coroner determined she was strangled.

Johanne Dorion

17 year old Johanne Dorion was last seen by a bus driver along 9th avenue in Fabreville, Laval on July 30th, 1977, six weeks before the Monast murder. She was found shortly thereafter five blocks away in a wooded area along the banks of Riviere des Mille Iles. The body was badly decomposed, but she had been stabbed. Note that both Houle and Dorion were nursing students, and Camirand worked at a dental office.

Katherine Hawkes

34 year old Hawkes was found in a wooded area next to the Val Royal CN train station on September 20th, 1977, 9 days after the Monast murder, and a month before the Bazinet murder. She was sexually assaulted, beaten and stabbed. Her clothing was stacked about 12 feet from the body. Personal items were missing, including her purse.


Eight possibly related cases. Now let’s pause for a moment. Little of what I have proposed so far is original.   I lifted it.   In a November 6th, 1977 article on the Denise Bazinet murder, Allo Police implied that six of the cases might be related: Bazinet, Camirand, Houle, Dorion, Monast and Hawkes. But what Allo Police was suggesting was that given the timing – 6 murders in 8 months – the accelerated pace might imply a connection. I am suggesting this, but a further element. Time and place are certainly important; but the victimology is similar: low risk women, rural wooded sites, clothing scattered or missing, strangulation in most cases. And something Allo Police could not have known in the Fall of 1977; there would be / could be more cases, most notably Theresa Allore and Manon Dube. One further disclosure. The Camirand / Dube / Allore connection? That too was not an original idea. Allo Police suggested it by referencing each of the cases in their articles, each time a new body was discovered.

Can we go further?

Having gone this far, why stop there if there are other cold cases that fit the victimology? As I have said, the Quebec police don’t have any new ideas, so let’s consider the following:

Claudette Poirier

15 year old Claudette Poirier disappeared from Drummondville July 27, 1977. Later her bicycle was recovered from the side of a rural road in the area. Nearly 10 years later her bones were recovered in a local camp ground. We don’t know how she died.

Chantal Tremblay

17 year old Chantal Tremblay disappeared from Rosemere on July 29, 1977. Her body was recovered 8 months later in Terrebonne. She was murdered, but we don’t know how she died. Her autopsy report should be examined to see if the coroner determined she was strangled.













A murder victim between the ages of 18 and 25 was discovered along chemin de lac in Longeueil on April 2nd, 1977. And given the time and place of this discovery, this then leads back to the consideration of the murder of…

Sharron Prior

Crime scene of Sharron Prior

Crime scene of Sharron Prior

Of all these cases, Sharon Prior’s is the most widely known. Given the geography, timing and victimology her case should be considered in these matters. It’s been nearly 40 years, and the Longeueil Police have advanced nothing.

Consider this:

The unidentified victim from 1977 and Sharron Prior were both discovered along Chemin de Lac in Longeueil. Prior went missing from Montreal, and – like Bazinet, Tremblay and Houle – her body was found off the island in the “suburbs”. Prior was found in a wooded area. Her clothing was scattered around the crime scene. There are obstacles with making a connection; Prior is a 1975 case (does that go back too far?). She was savagely beaten; her chest was collapsed, a tooth was driven through her lip. Was she strangled? We don’t know.

But maybe Sharron Prior fought harder. Maybe she resisted her assault more than the others. If you look at the crime scene photos of Camirand, Monast and Prior, it is the same victimology; you think you are looking at the same crime scene.

Is there anything else?

Certainly. The question is, how far forward and backward are you willing to go? What else should be considered? Here are my  best / worst ideas:

 Alice Pare

14 year old Pare disappears from her school in Drummondville in February, 1971. Her body is found in April 1971 in a wooded area near Victoriaville. She had been strangled.

Tammy Leakey

The 12 year old goes missing from Point Saint Charles in Montreal blocks from where Sharron Prior disappeared in March 1981. Her body is discovered soon after in Dorval; raped, stabbed once, and strangled, possibly with a cord or lace. There was always criticism that Manon Dube didn’t fit the profile because she was too young (10 years old). I think the rape and murder of Leakey puts to rest any doubts about who a predator may prey upon.

The following cases are disappearances. They just vanished. We don’t know if they were runaways, or what happened to them:

Johanne Danserault: 16, disappeared from Fabreville, June 1977

Sylvie Doucet: 13, disappeared East Montreal, June 1977

Elizabeth Bodzy: 14, disappeared Laval, July 1977

The police need to look into these cases to determine if they ran away from home, if they were murdered or if they simply “vanished”.

Here is a GIF animation showing locations of disappearances, followed by where bodies were discovered. Worth a thousand words. In the 1970s, someone was moving bodies out of Sherbrooke, and off the island of Montreal:

gifmaker slow







To see more maps click on this link.

With the exception of Helene Monast, none of these cases are included in the Surete du Quebec’s  cold case file for special examination. Quebec law enforcement (SQ, SPVM,Longeueil, RCMP, Laval) all need to work together to consider the evidence in these cases. These cases need to be re-examined as a group of potentially linked sex murders. At the very least, physical evidence from the cases (if any of it still exists) should be re-examined using modern DNA testing, and all the evidence should be cross-referenced to look for potential patterns and links.

(All photos are the  property/used courtesy of Allo Police/Section Rouge Média Inc.)


Case details: Allore, Camirand, Dube



I have expanded the Wikipedia page on Theresa Allore, and submitted two pages to Wikipedia on Manon Dube and Louise Camirand. I have included many details about the cases. Some of this I have written about in the past, but it’s nice to have it all laid out in one place. Also, I get tired of answering the same questions over and over, so hopefully this will elevate some of those problems.

The information is from a variety of sources (mostly newspaper articles from the 1970s), but chiefly adapted from the chapter I contributed to Kim Rossmo’s academic text, Criminal Investigative Failures.

Here are links to the pages:

Theresa Allore

Manon Dube

Louise Camirand

We’ll see how long they stay up. Since Wikipedia is open source, they can be pretty picky about the nature of content.

If all goes well, I hope to add additional pages about Helene Monast, Denise Bazinet, Jocelyne Houle, Johanne Dorion, Tammy Leakey, and Sharron Prior.


Quebec 1977: Keep The Focus Tight

Assemblée nationale du Québec

Assemblée nationale du Québec

Frequently I get asked the following:

“Why don’t you blog more? You appear to be sitting on a lot more information than you’re choosing to write about.”

There are a variety of reasons why I don’t blog as much as I used to. The easiest explanation is that I try now to keep a life balance with this obsession; I have a family, and my children require a lot of attention. I need to step away from this site frequently, and for extended periods. That’s just healthy.

Second reason. This site has been up for about 12 years. In the early days I blogged about everything; pop culture, criminal justice, trauma, and all manner of crimes. Part of this was, of course, to attracted attention; the more you write, the more hits you get. But I became concerned about the quality of hits. For instance, it was interesting and absorbing to be writing about, and communicating with people about some cold-case in California; but that dialogue diluted the focus of this blog, the mission of which is, Who Killed Theresa?  So I gradually tightened the vision to Canada, and then Quebec, with a particular emphasis on French Quebec. Occasionally I will veer off on a topic that interests me like the Rocky Mount Serial Murders or Hannah Graham.  This tightening of focus certainly means that I get fewer visitors to this site, but the quality of visitors are the ones I want. Google the words “Quebec”, “serial Killer”, “murder” and this site will be at the top of the list.

I also don’t get a lot of comments. That’s okay too. I really don’t need to be writing something only to receive 56 trolling messages from people with nothing better to do with their time than act-out on social media (I also control what comments get posted; I filter it). But the people I want to be reading are reading and participating; Canadian and Quebec politicians, law enforcement, victim NGOs, and, of course, some websleuthers.  They generally choose to email me directly.

What I now choose to write about (and what I consciously DO NOT write about) comes out after a long and deliberate decision making process. In the last two years, I have clearly wanted to keep the focus very tight around Quebec culture in the late 1970s, and specifically a series of murders that occurred during that time. I find anything else is simply a distraction to the goal; Who Killed Theresa?  And sometimes when I write, I am saying things in a kind of code to get a message out to a specific audience.  I am saying things in an indirect fashion, and communicating with people who I cannot directly communicate with (for instance, certain members of Quebec law enforcement who cannot be contacted directly, because it would be too dangerous). So you can read into my recent posts on Quebec Bikers what you will; but I wasn’t writing about that because I suddenly became interested in Quebec Biker culture in the 1970s.

A little bit scary and paranoid? Sure. There are all kinds of things that I know that would scare you, but I can’t write about them, in part because it could compromise an investigation. 

I am the only private entity (citizen or corporation) who has ever been granted free access to the crime archives of Section Rouge Media, the organization that warehouses all the Allo Police and Photo Police newspapers. This information is generally reserved for Quebec criminal justice agencies, or to investigative journalists who pay a fee for access. It’s not like a FOIA request. SRM is a private corporation in the business of making money. Their files are not public property. Witness the fallout when a sleuthing colleague attempted to gain access, then threatened SRM with a law suit: they were shut out completely. Section Rouge Media allows me to access their records because they know I have learned to be discrete. I have posted about 1/100th of what they provided to me. What I have posted I have done with their permission which they have granted because they know I am sharply focused on my writing, and I have no intention of embarrassing anyone. The other 99% that I am sitting on? I will simply say I have a pretty comprehensive understanding of crime on Quebec in the 1970s. I know all the police investigators, their names and photos, the people who did the autopsies, the lawyers, the judges, the crime scene examiners, etc… everything.  

Here’s an example –  in general terms – of something I have learned about law enforcement in Quebec that is disturbing. I have learned this from a variety of disparate sources. Occasionally in Quebec someone who is “connected” will commit a crime in Quebec and get caught. When law enforcement realizes that this person cannot be processed through the criminal justice system because they possess too much power and influence, the police will do the following in some instances. They will arrest someone else with a similar criminal background and charge them with the crime. The “connected” person walks away, and the criminal justice system processes the substitute criminal. It’s all very efficient, and Quebec Public Protection gets to say, “We got our man.”

That is not paranoid, that is a simple fact of living in the province of Quebec. It was a process undertaken in the “wild west” of the 1970s, and it is a process that continues to this day. You don’t have to look too far to connect the dots. The Matticks affair / Poitras bore this out 20 years ago, and Charbonneau is yielding a similar result today:

1. There is evidence of corruption.

2. The public demands an inquiry,

3. Millions of tax dollars are spent on a process.

4. The commission makes recommendations.

5. The government claims it does not have the resources to implement the recommendations.

The reality is they lack the moral fortitude. 

Luc-Yoland Gregoire is Dead


I only just learned of the recent death of Luc Yoland Gregoire. I will have more to write about this later. 

Luc and I corresponded by mail while he was in prison. I came to believe that he played no part in the death of my sister, Theresa.

You can read more about Luc as a suspect by going to this link here. The following is the release from Corrections Canada:

March 18, 2015 12:48 ET

Death of an Inmate at Archambault Institution-Minimum Security Unit

LAVAL, QUÉBEC–(Marketwired – March 18, 2015) – Correctional Service Canada

On March 17, 2015, Luc-Yoland Grégoire, an inmate from the minimum security unit at Archambault Institution in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines was found in need of medical attention.

Staff members immediately began performing CPR and emergency services were called. The offender was taken to the Cité de la santé Hospital in Laval where he was pronounced dead.

At the time of his death, Mr, Grégoire, 55 years old, had been serving since June 28, 1994 an indeterminate sentence for first degree murder, kidnap, utter threat and assault.

The inmate’s next of kin have been notified of his death.

As in all cases involving the death of an inmate, the police and the coroner have been notified, and Correctional Service Canada will review the circumstances of the incident.


Stéphan Parent: Novembre 78?

gauche à droite: Stephan Parent, Marc Bellemare, Michel Surprenant, Ugo Fredette et Francine Viens

gauche à droite: Stephan Parent, Marc Bellemare, Michel Surprenant, Ugo Fredette et Francine Viens

I have been corresponding with Stéphan Parent. He reached out to me through email, and the two of us have been doing some collaborating. Québécois will instantly know what this means. To be honest, when he first contacted me, I didn’t quite know what it meant. Our conversation went something like this:

– Hi, This is Stéphan Parent. Would you be interested in helping me with a film project?

– That depends… Who are you? What have you made?

– I made Novembre 84. I work with Claude Poirier and Marc Bellemare.

– Yes, I DEFINITELY want to help you.

For the uninitiated, Novembre 84 is a Quebec documentary film released last year that suggests a possible link between 7 child-murder cold cases in the region in the 1980s, possibly with a connection right up to the disappearance of Cédrika Provencher in 2007. I have not seen the film. I have read that it is very dramatic, provocative, and at times goes too far in suggesting possible connections. 

So Stéphan Parent is apparently a bit of a provocateur. And that’s ok because so am I. There is nothing wrong with agitating, so long as you know the limits of agitation. When I write about a series of unsolved murders and call the piece, Quebec 1977 – Who was The Bootlace Killer?, I am completely aware that that title comes fully loaded; bringing with it all kinds of suggestions that shock, disturb, and that may in the end be misleading. But equally true, I have been very careful to explain clearly that I am NOT suggesting every unsolved murder case is connected. Only that the police should investigate these cases to see if there is in fact a connection. That was always the argument with the Allore-Camirand-Dube evidence from the Pearson-Rossmo-Allore articles in 2002. It remains the argument with my Camirand-Bazinet-Monast-Allore posts from 2013.

So I think Mr.Parent and I are going to work together just fine. So far we have had much to share, and have a lot in common. I welcome, and am excited about what may come from an Allore-Poirier-Bellemare collaboration.

For more information on Stéphan Parent, you can find an excellent interview with him from my good friend Andrée-Anne Lavigne  on Youtube.



Guerre des Motards: Les Gitans contre Les Atomes

Effet La Wild West

car bomb (1)

J’ai trouvé l’article suivant tout en faisant quelques recherches sur la sociologie et la culture des gangs dans les années 1970. C’est à partir de la Gazette en 1974. C’est la première page , mais pas au-dessus du pli. Le titre était une photographie d’un membre de la bande de glisser sur la glace au cours annuel de la Journée de St Patrick défilé de Montréal . Apparemment, ce était plus intéressant que la guerre ouverte dans les rues de Sherbrooke .

Je suis en quelque sorte étonné par le niveau de persistance et de la violence décrite . Non seulement un combat éclate avec des fusils et des bâtons de baseball , la mêlée a persisté bas les principales rues de la ville , et même dans l’hôpital local . Vous entendez qu’il y avait plusieurs guerre des motards au Québec, mais nous avons tendance à se concentrer sur les événements liés à la Nomades et Rock Machine dans les années 1990 . La plupart des détails de premières altercations sont perdus. Voici l’article complet de The Gazette :

 Two Killed, three injured in Sherbrooke gang battles

by Ken Ernhofer of The Gazette, Monday, March 18, 1974

Sherbrooke – Five persons were detained by police following motorcycle gang warfare that claimed two lives and seriously injured three men this weekend.

Members of the Gitans (Gypsies) and the Atomes clashed three times, including a brawl in a hospital over a four-hour period that began at 10:30 p.m. Friday.

The Quebec Police Force, which assisted city police, said a battle first flared in the parking lot of a King St. brasserie when 20 gang members fought with guns, chains and baseball bats.

Robert Provencher, 20, an Atome, was shot in the back and Jacques Filteau, 25, a Gitan, was knifed in the abdomen.

The injured men were taken to St. Vincent de Paul hospital. Three hours later gang members pushed aside horrified nurses and attendants and the brawl resumed in the hospital corridors.

Five Gitans then climbed into a car and were chased through the town by six Atomes in a second vehicle.

The second car rammed the first and the battle broke out again with rifles and baseball bats as weapons.

Marc Destafano, 20, was killed when shot in the head and Michel Lamoureux, 19, dies after being shot in the chest.

Police detained five men as material witnesses on a coroner’s warrant after cornering gang members in a house.

Gang feuds have flared since October and on Jan. 29 Mario Bureau, 19, and Mario Demers, 19, members of the Pacific Rebels, were shot to death while riding in a car.

Since the beginning of the year six persons have died in gang warfare in the province.


Biker War 1974 – Les Gitans v. Les Atomes

Wild West Indeed

car bomb (1)


I found the following article while doing some research on sociology and gang culture in the 1970s. This is from The Gazette in 1974. It’s the front page, but not above the fold. The headline was a photograph of a band member slipping on ice during Montreal’s annual St Patrick’s Day parade.  Apparently that was more interesting than open warfare in the streets of Sherbrooke. 

I am sort of astounded by the level of persistence and violence described. Not only did a fight break out with guns and baseball bats, the melee persisted down the main streets of town, and even into the local hospital.  You hear that there were several biker gang wars in Quebec, but we tend to focus on the events related to the Nomads and Rock Machine in the late 1990s. Most of the details of early altercations are lost. Here’s the full article from The Gazette:

Two Killed, three injured in Sherbrooke gang battles

by Ken Ernhofer of The Gazette, Monday, March 18, 1974

Sherbrooke – Five persons were detained by police following motorcycle gang warfare that claimed two lives and seriously injured three men this weekend.

Members of the Gitans (Gypsies) and the Atomes clashed three times, including a brawl in a hospital over a four-hour period that began at 10:30 p.m. Friday.

The Quebec Police Force, which assisted city police, said a battle first flared in the parking lot of a King St. brasserie when 20 gang members fought with guns, chains and baseball bats.

Robert Provencher, 20, an Atome, was shot in the back and Jacques Filteau, 25, a Gitan, was knifed in the abdomen.

The injured men were taken to St. Vincent de Paul hospital. Three hours later gang members pushed aside horrified nurses and attendants and the brawl resumed in the hospital corridors.

Five Gitans then climbed into a car and were chased through the town by six Atomes in a second vehicle.

The second car rammed the first and the battle broke out again with rifles and baseball bats as weapons.

Marc Destafano, 20, was killed when shot in the head and Michel Lamoureux, 19, dies after being shot in the chest.

Police detained five men as material witnesses on a coroner’s warrant after cornering gang members in a house.

Gang feuds have flared since October and on Jan. 29 Mario Bureau, 19, and Mario Demers, 19, members of the Pacific Rebels, were shot to death while riding in a car.

Since the beginning of the year six persons have died in gang warfare in the province.



Quebec Power Vacuum 1975 – 1979

“It was like the wild west.”

Private Investigator Robert Buellac describing the conditions of crime and law enforcement in Quebec in the late 1970s.


Homicide Investigators, Surete du Quebec 1970s

In a post titled Quebec 1977: Who was the Bootlace Killer,  I presented information to suggest a possible connection between approximately 20 disappearances and unsolved murders in the province of Quebec in the late 1970s.  Between 1975 and 1981 young women routinely went missing and turned up dead in rural and wooded areas. Many of them were straggled, raped and brutally beaten.

Montreal 1977

Montreal 1977

In the Winter of 1977, the Quebec tabloid, Allo Police reported that there had been 212 homicides in the province in 1976, 4 per week, with 1 in 4 of those crimes going unsolved by the police. Two years later the Sherbrooke Record proclaimed “Townships Crime worst in Quebec”.  Statistics released by the Quebec Police Commission showed that the Eastern Townships had the highest rate of crime of any region in Quebec in 1978. The report noted that crimes against persons had “skyrocketed” in the region. The eleven Township municipalities having their own police forces collectively logged 377 crimes in the nature of homicides, rapes, sex crimes, armed robberies and other assaults in the year 1978. This was a 9% increase from the 345 crimes against persons reported in 1977. For those Township municipalities that did not have their own police forces – towns patrolled by the Quebec Police Forces (QPF) – the figures were even worse. The QPF showed a rise in violent crimes against persons from 87 in 1977 to 142 in 1978, a staggering increase of 63%. Raynald Gendron, the director of the police commission’s research and statistics division stated there was no accounting for the increase in crime.

Gendron’s statement is false and irresponsible. Though the specific actions that led to these crimes – and more pointedly to the murders and disappearances cited in the Bootlace Killer piece – are to this day unknown, the conditions which gave rise to this environment of disorder and lawlessness are familiar and well documented:

Political Unrest

In the 1976 provincial election, the Parti Québécois was elected for the first time to form the government of Quebec. Regardless of where you sit on the argument of whether this was ultimately good or bad for the province, the original elected members of the Parti Québécois were academics, not managers. They were not well equipped with the tools of decision making, communication and leadership that were so greatly need in a time of social upheaval and change. The Quiet Revolution unfolded with the previous Liberal administration; the PQ government was not well positioned to manage it. Almost immediately the new party got down to the business of what is always most important in regime change: investigating the actions of the prior government. In 1977 René Lévesque  launchds the Malouf Commission’s Public Inquiry into Jean Drapeau’s 1976 Montreal Olympics (and you thought Charbonneau was something new).  The Commission was a huge time-suck on the new and inexperienced PQ government. While attending to grand spectacles like public inquiries, the Parti Québécois took its eye off the ball of the day-to-day aspects of governing like public safety, organized crime, and education; with education specifically coming home to roost in their indecision over granting a certain small Eastern Township CEGEP permission to build a new dormitory for their newly created college. Champlain college would continue to use their grossly inadequate facility in Compton, Quebec, resulting in disastrous consequences for students (as documented many times on this website).

Police Force Consolidation


Surete du Quebec: Arrêt Stop

After assuming power, the Parti Québécois began a project of consolidation that was merging smaller police forces under the umbrella of the Quebec Police Forces (QPF, and later the Surete du Quebec or “SQ”). In 1978, larger municipalities such as Sherbrooke and Magog were able to keep their forces in tact. By contrast, other towns such as Lennoxville and Brome were teetering on the brink of being swallowed up by the Provincial force. Still others such as Compton, Ayer’s Cliff and North Hatley had already succumbed to consolidation and lost their forces altogether. With consolidation came confusion. The QPF’s jurisdiction and responsibilities were growing at an accelerated pace. They were unfamiliar with the new territory and struggled to keep up adequate levels of service. The QPF force known as the Coaticook division had just eighteen men to cover over 2500 square miles, from Lake Memphremagog in the east to the New Hampshire border in the west, from the outskirts of Sherbrooke all the way South to the town of Stanstead on the Vermont border. The changes were confusing to both the police and public. For example, a short, two mile drive on route 143 – the main drag through Lennoxville -would take you through no less than three police jurisdictions – those of the Sherbrooke Municipal Police, the Coaticook division of the QPF, and the town police force of Lennoxville.

Similar problems were mirrored in cities like Montreal. Depending on where a crime took place in “Montreal”, the investigating force could be the Montreal police (SPVM), the provincial police (QPF / SQ), off-island police from Longueuil or Laval, or Federal investigators from the RCMP, or a combination of these forces! In the case of Katherine Hawkes, because the body was found at a CN train station, it was on federal land, so the RCMP took the lead, even though the Val Royal train station is squarely in the middle of the island of Montreal. The Hawkes case has been investigated largely in isolation from other Montreal crimes for over 37 years, more than likely a large contributor to why the case remains unsolved.


IMG_0349For as long as there have been motorcycles there have been biker gangs in Quebec, but it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the gangs became organized.  Ganks like the Popeyes and the Devil’s Disciples were the forerunners of the Hells Angels in Quebec, with the first Hells chapter being formed in Sorel, Quebec in late 1977. In 1978, the newspapers were filled with tales of ‘Bébé’ Laverdière and the Black Spiders, who had full reign over the province.. Reports of drug killings, strangled go-go dancers, bodies of rival gang members turning up in local rivers anchored to wheel rims and cement blocks where weekly events. In 1978 the SQ stated that the biker problem was their number one priority. As documented by Paul Cherry in The Gazette, the disruption and chaos caused by conflicting biker factions continued for a decade until the Lennoxille Massacre in 1985; the violent murder of five Laval Hells members which ultimately lead to a period of relative quite and consolidation in Quebec biker culture. Almost 20 years and a biker war later we would learn what we had always suspected: that the relationship between police, the government and organized crime in Quebec was compromised, and that all parties had a long history of working together.

Organized Crime

Frank "Le Gros" Cotroni

Frank “Le Gros” Cotroni

The Cotroni crime family was a Mafia organization based in Montreal with strong ties to the Bonanno crime family in New York. From the 1950s through to the mid-1970s the Cotroni family controlled the Montreal drug trade, led by the family boss, Vic Cotroni. By 1975 Vic Cotroni was ailing in health, and operations were turned over the the family heir to the throne, Paolo Violi. In January 1978, Violi was assassinated. Eventually, Vic’s younger brother, Frank would take control of organized crime in Montreal, but that wasn’t until the Spring of 1979 when Frank Cotroni was paroled from a U.S. penitentiary.  For almost a year-and-a-half there was a virtual power vacuum in organized crime in Quebec.

Disorganization in organized crime, gang culture and the government; this was the environment in the late 1970s in which the murders of Sharron Prior, Denise Bazinet, Helene Monast, Louise Camirand, Jocelyne Houle, Johanne Dorion, Katherine Hawkes, Claudette Poirier, Chantal Tremblay, Manon Dube and Theresa Allore occured.

Do these cases remain unsolved due to conspiracy or incompetence, a culture of indifference and compromise? We do not know.

But consider the following cartoon from a 1975 edition of Photo Police:


Further consider that at least two of the victims mentioned above had been violated by blunt objects. Now consider what the cartoon actually suggests: Not only was rape an accepted cultural norm in Quebec society in the 1970s, it was invited, considered humorous, and suggestively practiced by the very agents elected to protect citizens from harm and victimization.

(All photos are the  property/used courtesy of Allo Police/Section Rouge Média Inc.)


Sharron Prior – March 29, 1975


Some words and a prayer for Sharron Prior who died 40 years ago tomorrow, Sunday, March 29th, 1975.

This is the oldest cold-case where I share a personal relationship with the family of the victim. The Priors (Sharron’s mother and sisters) became friends a number of years ago through our shared victim experience, and we have stayed in touch for close to 10 years. I had the great privilege about 2 summers ago to have coffee with Yvonne at her lovely home in St. Charles. We kicked-the-can over these cold cases one more time, sharing our ideas and frustrations.  

Ours is a club you’d never want to join, but we survivors of tragedy are a resilient, supportive, intelligent – and above all else – humorous bunch. I had a Skype interview with a Quebec journalist last weekend. She was surprised to hear the extent to which we all stood together and communicated with each other. The Priors, Monasts, Dubes, Camirands, Allores; we stay in touch and watch out for each other. We all know a break in a cold-case for one will be a victory for all; anything to advance the cause of justice in these horrible crimes that took place in the late 1970s in Quebec.